- The Washington Times - Monday, November 23, 2009


Magnitude 3.7 quake hits Big Bear Lake

LOS ANGELES | A magnitude-3.7 earthquake has rattled Southern California’s Big Bear Lake area, followed by a sharp aftershock.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the first earthquake struck at 7:55 a.m. Sunday, about seven miles north of Big Bear City.

The same area was rocked by a magnitude-2.4 aftershock 2.5 minutes later.

A San Bernardino County Sheriff’s dispatcher said there have been no reports of damage or injury.

Big Bear Lake is in the San Bernardino National Forest about 80 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.


Officials: Boardwalk fire began in shop

ATLANTIC CITY | Investigators say a fire that destroyed businesses on the famous Atlantic City boardwalk apparently started in a pizza shop.

No serious injuries were reported after the blaze broke out on the Central Pier shortly before 7 p.m. Saturday. It took nearly four hours to bring under control.

Investigators say the flames quickly spread from the pizza shop to two clothing stores and a photography shop. The fire created billows of thick smoke.

The Central Pier has been hit by other fires in its history, including one in May 2006 that caused nearly a half-million dollars in damage.


Holidays will again test air bottleneck

NEW YORK | Fewer people are expected to fly this holiday season. But travelers shouldn’t expect a full reprieve from the horrid flight delays of Thanksgivings past, especially if they are headed to New York City.

Despite some recent improvements, the Big Apple’s three major airports continue to make up the worst air travel bottleneck in the country.

Newark, LaGuardia and Kennedy ranked first, second and third worst in on-time arrivals among major U.S. airports for the first nine months of the year.

About a third of all flights into Newark and LaGuardia have come in late this year, with things just a little better at JFK.

Aviation officials have been working on the problem for two years.


Suspect suspected of eating evidence

STREETSBORO | Police say a bank robbery suspect in Ohio may have eaten evidence when he gobbled a piece of paper while handcuffed and lying across the hood of a police cruiser.

A police video camera captured the John Ford, 35, of Cleveland, grabbing the paper with his mouth as police emptied his pockets.

Mr. Ford was arrested after a report of a bank robbery in Streetsboro just south of Cleveland on Thursday.

Police say a man walked into the bank and handed a teller a note that demanded money.

Police say they found money in a bag in Ford’s car, which fit the description of the bank robber’s vehicle, along with a bank dye pack that had exploded.

Mr. Ford was being held Saturday in the Portage County Jail, where his file did not indicate that he had a lawyer.


2 dead after road shooting

HILLSBORO | Authorities say a gunman was killed by police after fatally wounding a passenger in another vehicle.

Police said the shooting in Hillsboro set off a chase with the gunman firing at officers until he crashed at an intersection in neighboring Cornelius. A witness told the Oregonian newspaper that the barefoot gunman fired at officers as he ran. He was hit when police returned fire.

The passenger, Danny K. Le Gore, 56, of Hillsboro, was rushed to a hospital, where he died. Police did not immediately identify the gunman.

Police initially called the violence a road rage shooting but later backed away from the statement.

But, a police statement says the shooting “appears to be a random act of extreme violence.”


Radiation detected at plant; public OK

MIDDLETOWN | A small amount of radiation has been detected in a reactor building at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Central Pennsylvania. Officials say there is no public health risk.

About 150 employees were sent home after the radiation was detected Saturday afternoon.

Exelon Nuclear spokeswoman Beth Archer said investigators are searching for the cause. She said the radiation was quickly contained.

Radiological surveys showed the contamination was confined to surfaces inside the building.

The unit has been shut down for refueling and maintenance since Oct. 26. The company hopes to resume maintenance work Sunday.

Officials are testing workers for possible unusual radiation exposure.

A partial meltdown occurred in Three Mile Island’s Unit 2 reactor in March 1979.


Cleared nurse wants to return to work

SAN ANTONIO | A former Air Force nurse cleared of murder charges says he’s never regretted the care he gave dying patients and wants to return to nursing.

Capt. Michael Fontana has been acquitted after being accused of giving lethal doses of painkillers to speed the deaths of three terminal patients at the Air Force’s largest hospital.

He showed no emotion as the military judge gave the verdict. He then collapsed into the arms of weeping family members in the Lackland Air Force Base courtroom.

Military prosecutors had painted Capt. Fontana as a rogue and arrogant nurse who overdosed patients who were not - in their words - “dying quick enough.”

Capt. Fontana was also acquitted of one count of conduct unbecoming an officer for altering medical records.

Officials say Capt. Fontana will now be evaluated to see whether he can return to being an Air Force nurse at the Wilford Hall Medical Center.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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